For Lyle McKinney, life in the campus “bubble” flies by. Before he knows it, two weeks have passed since he last drove his car or grabbed a bite with friends beyond the boundaries of campus.
It takes a special type of personality to both love where you work and to live where you work.
McKinney is part of a select community of faculty-in-residence whose roles don’t end when they leave the classroom. The UH campus is their home, and 5,600 students are their neighbors.
The goal of the faculty-in-residence program, established in 2010, is to build supportive relationships between instructors and students in a relaxed setting.
The “educators on call” demystify the faculty-student relationship by building student confidence and success. They develop academic and social programs that range from teaching students better study strategies to how to apply for grad school. And then there are Sunday dinners where everyone can just eat and relax like family.
McKinney has lived on the UH campus for five years, which makes him the longest-serving faculty-in-residence to date. He has helped to shape this pivotal role.
He’s lived in both the Quadrangle and University Lofts and has seen his fair share of terrified freshmen transform into self-assured seniors.
McKinney focuses on college student success as an associate professor in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. The faculty-in-residence program presents the perfect scenario to blend his research with mentoring.
“When I go to the cafeteria, or do my laundry, I may have to be on and have a conversation,” said McKinney, who is regularly approached by students.
It’s all part of the gig.
“It matters and it helps students. Being a faculty member is a privilege, and I want to be here to make an impact.”
As a student, Erica Jordan loved living on campus. The experience dramatically shaped who she is today, an assistant professor in Human Development and Family Studies and a mentor to hundreds of Cougars.
“I see them as future world leaders because they represent what the world is going to look like. You have all types of people coming into one building and sharing space.”
Jordan and her husband, Eric, have lived in Cougar Village I since last fall (2017). They love the convenience of campus life. Eric enjoys walking to pregame tailgate parties and Erica likes not having to cook and clean dishes.
To connect with students, she holds weekly “Snacks & Chats” in the CV-I lobby. Jordan provides the snacks as an extra incentive for students to show up.
“I can be tired from teaching all day, but then I can come back home and do this because it’s different after hours.”
Aaron Becker, his wife Laney, and their four boys, ages 2 to 8, had barely settled into their new dream home—it had been a week—when the call came for the family to pick up once again and move into Moody Towers.
The decision was difficult, but right.
“We love this part of college life. We wanted our boys to participate in some of the campus activities that are hard to experience when you live off campus,” said Becker.
Since July, life as a faculty-in-residence has been a series of adventures.
When Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is not in class, running the Robotic Swarm Control Lab, producing a YouTube video about robots or on a conference call with colleagues halfway around the world, you might see him walking his eldest two, Logan and Lincoln, to class at the UH Charter School, biking around campus with the family or at a pregame party with Laney and the boys during football season.
“I married well. Life with four boys and over a hundred robots can be chaotic, but Laney helps me see the bigger picture.”